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Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degree to which it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. On Earth, most weather phenomena occur in the lowest level of the planet's atmosphere, the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate is the term for the averaging of atmospheric conditions over longer periods of time. When used without qualification, "weather" is generally understood to mean the weather of Earth.

Weather is driven by air pressure, temperature, and moisture differences between one place and another. These differences can occur due to the Sun's angle at any particular spot, which varies with latitude. The strong temperature contrast between polar and tropical air gives rise to the largest scale atmospheric circulations: the Hadley Cell, the Ferrel Cell, the Polar Cell, and the jet stream. Weather systems in the middle latitudes, such as extratropical cyclones, are caused by instabilities of the jet streamflow. Because Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbital plane (called the ecliptic), sunlight is incident at different angles at different times of the year. On Earth's surface, temperatures usually range ±40 °C (−40 °F to 100 °F) annually. Over thousands of years, changes in Earth's orbit can affect the amount and distribution of solar energy received by Earth, thus influencing long-term climate and global climate change.

Surface temperature differences in turn cause pressure differences. Higher altitudes are cooler than lower altitudes, as most atmospheric heating is due to contact with the Earth's surface while radiative losses to space are mostly constant. Weather forecasting is the application of science and technology to predict the state of the atmosphere for a future time and a given location. Earth's weather system is a chaotic system; as a result, small changes to one part of the system can grow to have large effects on the system as a whole. Human attempts to control the weather have occurred throughout history, and there is evidence that human activities such as agriculture and industry have modified weather patterns.

Studying how the weather works on other planets has been helpful in understanding how weather works on Earth. A famous landmark in the Solar System, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, is an anticyclonic storm known to have existed for at least 300 years. However, the weather is not limited to planetary bodies. A star's corona is constantly being lost to space, creating what is essentially a very thin atmosphere throughout the Solar System. The movement of mass ejected from the Sun is known as the solar wind. Read more...

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An atmospheric gravity wave manifests itself as altocumulus undulatus clouds in an arid environment, in the Tadrart Acacus region of southeast Algeria.

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Cherry tree moving with wind blowing about 22 m/sec (about 49 mph)

Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On the surface of the Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the Sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space. Winds are commonly classified by their spatial scale, their speed, the types of forces that cause them, the regions in which they occur, and their effect. The strongest observed winds on a planet in the Solar System occur on Neptune and Saturn. Winds have various aspects: velocity (wind speed); the density of the gas involved; energy content or wind energy. Wind is also an important means of transportation for seeds and small birds; with time things can travel thousands of miles in the wind.

In meteorology, winds are often referred to according to their strength, and the direction from which the wind is blowing. Short bursts of high-speed wind are termed gusts. Strong winds of intermediate duration (around one minute) are termed squalls. Long-duration winds have various names associated with their average strength, such as breeze, gale, storm, and hurricane. Wind occurs on a range of scales, from thunderstorm flows lasting tens of minutes, to local breezes generated by heating of land surfaces and lasting a few hours, to global winds resulting from the difference in absorption of solar energy between the climate zones on Earth. The two main causes of large-scale atmospheric circulation are the differential heating between the equator and the poles, and the rotation of the planet (Coriolis effect). Within the tropics, thermal low circulations over terrain and high plateaus can drive monsoon circulations. In coastal areas the sea breeze/land breeze cycle can define local winds; in areas that have variable terrain, mountain and valley breezes can dominate local winds.

In human civilization, the concept of wind has been explored in mythology, influenced the events of history, expanded the range of transport and warfare, and provided a power source for mechanical work, electricity, and recreation. Wind powers the voyages of sailing ships across Earth's oceans. Hot air balloons use the wind to take short trips, and powered flight uses it to increase lift and reduce fuel consumption. Areas of wind shear caused by various weather phenomena can lead to dangerous situations for aircraft. When winds become strong, trees and human-made structures are damaged or destroyed.

Winds can shape landforms, via a variety of aeolian processes such as the formation of fertile soils, such as loess, and by erosion. Dust from large deserts can be moved great distances from its source region by the prevailing winds; winds that are accelerated by rough topography and associated with dust outbreaks have been assigned regional names in various parts of the world because of their significant effects on those regions. Wind also affects the spread of wildfires. Winds can disperse seeds from various plants, enabling the survival and dispersal of those plant species, as well as flying insect populations. When combined with cold temperatures, wind has a negative impact on livestock. Wind affects animals' food stores, as well as their hunting and defensive strategies.

Previously selected articles: Atmosphere of Jupiter, Tropical Storm Allison, Tornado, More...

Did you know...

...that a hurricane force wind warning is issued by the United States National Weather Service for storms that are not tropical cyclones but are expected to produce hurricane-force winds (65 knots (75 mph; 120 km/h) or higher)?

...that the Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting System is a software package for tropical cyclone forecasting developed in 1988 that is still used today by meteorologists in various branches of the US Government?

...that a cryoseism is a sudden ground or glacier movement that can occur due to water freezing or ice cracking after drastic temperature changes?

...that BUFR is a binary data format standardized by the World Meteorological Organization for storing observation data from weather stations and weather satellites?

...that the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center issues weather forecasts for conditions that can cause avalanches in the mountains of western Washington and northwestern Oregon?

...that a wind chill warning is issued by the National Weather Service when a combination of wind and cold temperatures is expected to cause life-threatening conditions for anyone caught outside?

Recent and ongoing weather

This week in weather history...

September 15

2016: Typhoon Meranti, one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record at its peak, made landfall at Xiamen, Fujian, China, killing 47 people in China and Taiwan.

September 16

1961: Hurricane Debbie, the only tropical cyclone in history to directly impact the British Isles, brought damaging winds of over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) across Ireland.

September 17

2010: Hurricane Karl, the strongest hurricane on record in the Bay of Campeche, made landfall near Veracruz, Mexico, killing 22 people.

September 18

1906: A typhoon devastated the city and port of Hong Kong, killing 15,000 people: around 5% of the population at the time.

September 19

1914: A tropical storm, the only tropical cyclone of the 1914 Atlantic hurricane season, dissipated over coastal Louisiana. This was the least active Atlantic hurricane season on record.

September 20

2017: Hurricane Maria, one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record, made landfall on Puerto Rico near its peak intensity, killing 64 people directly and causing catastrophic damage that left the entire island without power. This lack of power would eventually lead to 3,000 more deaths in the coming months.

September 21

2011: Typhoon Roke made landfall near Hamamatsu, Japan, the second typhoon to affect the area in just a few weeks.

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Robert FitzRoy

Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy FRS (5 July 1805 – 30 April 1865) was an English officer of the Royal Navy and a scientist. He achieved lasting fame as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage, FitzRoy's second expedition to Tierra del Fuego and the Southern Cone.

FitzRoy was a pioneering meteorologist who made accurate daily weather predictions, which he called by a new name of his own invention: "forecasts". In 1854 he established what would later be called the Met Office, and created systems to get weather information to sailors and fishermen for their safety. He was an able surveyor and hydrographer. As Governor of New Zealand, serving from 1843 to 1845, he tried to protect the Māori from illegal land sales claimed by British settlers.

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WikiProject Meteorology is a collaborative effort by dozens of Wikipedians to improve the quality of meteorology- and weather-related articles. If you would like to help, visit the project talk page, and see what needs doing.

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